Developmental Genetics, Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala 752 37, Uppsala län, Sweden. Electronic address:
Inhibitory interneurons participate in mnemonic processes. However, defined roles for identified interneuron populations are scarce. A subpopulation of oriens lacunosum-moleculare (OLM) interneurons genetically defined by the expression of the nicotinic receptor α2 subunit has been shown to gate information carried by either the temporoammonic pathway or Schaffer collaterals in vitro. Here we set out to determine whether selective modulation of OLMα2 cells in the intermediate CA1 affects learning and memory in vivo. Our data show that intermediate OLMα2 cells can either enhance (upon their inhibition) or impair (upon their activation) object memory encoding in freely moving mice, thus exerting bidirectional control. Moreover, we find that OLMα2 cell activation inhibits fear-related memories and that OLMα2 cells respond differently to nicotine in the dorsoventral axis. These results suggest that intermediate OLMα2 cells are an important component in the CA1 microcircuit regulating learning and memory processes. VIDEO ABSTRACT.